Nestled in the beautiful landscape of the Western North Carolina mountains, our town of Highlands is a haven for avid bird enthusiasts and nature lovers. Boasting a diverse ecosystem and an abundance of bird species, Highlands offers an unparalleled birding experience. The Audubon Society has designated Highlands as an important Bird Area. In a typical birding outing, you are likely to see as many as fifty different avian species. Here are the top places for birding in Highlands, NC.
Highlands Botanical Garden
Head to the Highlands Biological Station’s Botanical Garden where you can meander through the diverse flora and fauna of Highlands while you explore a variety of different birding habitats. The Biological station also offers guided bird walks.
Across the road from the Biological Station, you can find the trail head to Sunset Rock, a popular hiking spot and amazing place for birding. Keep an eye out for birds along the way up to the rock. Once at the top, make sure you have packed your binoculars and blanket for the perfect bird watching outing.
Some great birding can also be found along Flat Mountain Road and the Ranger Falls Trail. To get there, from Highlands, head down US 64 west toward Cashiers for about 3.5 miles. Then, turn left onto Flat Mountain Road. Continue on Flat Mountain road for about 2 miles. Look for a “Ranger Falls” sign on the left to access the trail.
The most unique birding experience in Highlands may be found on Whiteside Mountain. Whiteside Mountain is home to the fastest bird in the world, the Peregrine Falcon. These birds were once on the brink of extinction but have now been removed from the endangered species list. Today, there are at least thirteen pairs existing in North America, including one pair on Whiteside Mountain. In September, you can get a front row seat for the hawk migration. Whiteside Mountain should definitely be added to your Highlands birding list.
Whether you’re a seasoned birder or novice nature enthusiast, Highlands, North Carolina promises a unique and captivating birding experience. So come explore the charm of Highlands and check these four spectacular places for birding off your list.